By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The School Board unanimously approved $192,840 in transfers on July 28 between salary lines so as to give non-union employees a 3 percent raise that was not approved by voters at the March annual Town Meeting.
When voters rejected the operating budget, the default budget, which was slightly lower, went into effect but didn't include the 3 percent raises but did include some money in line items that was no longer needed.
"The School Board used their power to do specifically what the voters didn't want them to do," Gilford Budget Committee Chairman Norman Silber said.
The default budget, according to state law, is composed of the previous year's budget, plus all contractual expenses and minus all one-time or nonrecurring expenses.
District Business Administrator Scott Isabelle told the board that the transfers needed to be made before the administration and the School Board could begin the process of developing next year's operating and default budgets.
During the 2016-17 budget preparation, the school district and the Budget Committee included contractual raises for all union employees of 1 percent plus a step increase, which averaged 3 percent per person.
After considerable discussion by both boards, a 3 percent raise was included in the proposed operating budget but, by law, could not be included in the default budget.
Isabelle said the money transferred came from line-item savings that were included in the default budget but not in the proposed operations budget such as the elimination of a reading teacher, an elementary music teacher who retired and was replaced by someone with a lower salary, the early retirement of a teacher in the Special Education department, and the difference between the new superintendent's salary and the retired superintendent's salary.
He said there are also savings in the retirement support line and from the salary tech coordinator line at the high school.
The transfers went to about 20 salary lines for employees who are not union members and were spread throughout the district.
Silber said that the voters specifically rejected the 3 percent increases in non-union salaries when they declined to support the operating budget and allowed the default budget to go into effect for the 2016-17 school year.
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